"The man in the red underpants" and other cunning ploys from the shameless iERA

iERA have released the latest attempt in their "One Reason" campaign to get the poor ignorant population of the UK to convert to Islam. Disarmingly called "The Man in the Red Underpants", it's a folksy examination, in the emetic style of Yusuf Estes, of the the reasons why belief in Allah is philosophically logical. It can, at best, be described as intellectually dishonest. 
 I'm going to take a break from relating my discussions with "Kevin" to examine this publication in detail over the next few posts.
Here's a flavour of the introduction:
"What would you do if a man in a pair of red underpants came knocking on your door saying that he’d come to read the gas meter?" See? You thought it was going to be scary stuff about burning in Hell for eternity if you don't believe, didn't you? Shucks, now that's old style dawah.
"Would you believe him without thinking and let him into your house? Just ‘have faith?’ Or would you think about the situation, ask some questions and apply reason?" Did you see what they did there?
"I’m pretty sure it’s the last one. Even if you told him to “Get lost you weirdo!”, you’d use reason, logic and common sense to make sense of the man in red underpants, just as we do for most things that happen in our lives" ... And that's what we're going to do here, iERA.


Let's start with a nice easy one from the section entitled "Amazing level of information"...
"Actually what is remarkable about the Quran is not only that it does not contain any contradictions (er, yes it does), but in fact it seems to be making statements about history, theology, philosophy, law and the natural world that defies a normal human explanation... OK, hit me with the best evidence you have, iERA...
"Science is a very fickle fellow. (Pass me a bucket...) Things which scientists all agree upon at one time are turned on their heads and are shown to be contradicted by observations at another time, so perhaps it’s not the best thing to judge a book by. Still, there are some things that seem to have been observed so often and so much that it becomes some sort of ‘fact’." ...er, like evolution, you mean? ...Here's an erudite Islamic cleric discussing just that topic. The reason for choosing this particular sheik will become clear...



"One of these things is the embryonic development of humans." ah - that old chestnut....

"The idea that we go through stages of foetal development is really quite new"
So we're conveniently wiping the ancient Greeks from history now. Let's be forgiving and assume that iERA have simply forgotten Aristotle and Galen wrote about exactly this. But let's not go over ground already covered in previous posts and skip straight to the crux: An impressive sounding intellectual called Prof. Johnson is quoted at length.
Now, those of you familiar with dawah arguments claiming miraculously accurate knowledge of embryology in the Qur'an, will know that poor old Prof. Johnson is quoted almost as often on Islamic sites as Keith Moore's "The Developing Human (WITH ISLAMIC ADDITIONS)" (Which is quoted again here - but without its full title, you intellectually dishonest ... scallywags! Fancy forgetting to let your readers know that you're quoting from a specially commissioned book paid for by the Saudi government)
"Marshall Jonson, Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy, Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, U.S.A., said: “As a scientist I can only deal with things I can specifically see. I can understand embryology and developmental biology; I can understand the words that are translated to me from the Qur’an. If I were to transpose myself into that era, knowing what I do today and describing things, I could not describe the things that were described. I see no evidence to refute the concept that this individual Muhammed had to be developing this information from some place, so I see nothing in conflict with the concept that Divine Intervention was involved on what he was able to say.”
What iERA forget to mention is where the professor uttered his infamous quote. Other Islamic sites are not so bashful however. Islamic-awareness.org for example gives us the following:
Professor Johnson began to take an interest in the scientific signs in the Qur'an at the 7th Saudi Medical Conference (1982), when a special committee was formed to investigate scientific signs in the Qur'an and Hadith. At first, Professor Johnson refused to accept the existence of such verses in the Qur'an and Hadith. But after a dicussuion (sic) with Sheikh Zindani he took an interest and concentrated his research on the internal as well as external development of the fetus.
So who is this mysterious Sheik Zindani with whom the professor had a "dicussuion" prior to his change of heart?
Would it happen to be the same Zindani as the one identified on February 24, 2004, by the US Treasury Department  as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist"? The same one the Department said it had credible evidence for having a "long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders", and "serving as a contact for Ansar al-Islam (Al), a Kurdish-based terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda"?.Yup.
So why was he chatting so ... persuasively with poor old Professor Johnson. Well, again iERA neglect to tell us that Zindani is the man largely responsible for getting almost all the academics who are quoted on Islamic sites to say nice things about the Qur'an: "He approached the Saudi government's largest charity, the Muslim World League, in 1984 to establish a Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah, based in Saudi Arabia." Yes...that Comission on Scientific Signs - the one denounced by those who attended its conferences as an elaborate set up to con quotes out of gullible western academics.

What else do we know about Zindani?
 
"In July 2008, al-Zindani joined a panel of Islamic clerics and prominent tribal chiefs to announce the creation of a new morality authority. The Meeting for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice declared its intention to alert Yemen's police force to infringements of Islamic law. The declaration followed reports of vigilante activity by self-appointed 'morality guardians' in Hodeidah, Aden, and Sana'a Zindani's name subsequently appeared on the UN 1267 Committee's list of individuals belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda" – if he “discussed” with me I’m sure I’d pretty soon say anything he wanted....
Now remember, the people at iERA could have chosen ANY EVIDENCE they wished. If the Qur'an is awash with scientific miracles, why choose to quote a Professor who was hoodwinked into a dubious statement by a lunatic* fundamentalist and terrorist?
(Oh, and by the way, the old cleric in the video telling us that Darwin invented evolution to make himself feel better because his ancestors were apes and pigs was ...you've guessed it...Sheik Zindani)
* he believed his research team found the cure to AIDS. Dr. Jamil al-Mughales, the head of the Clinical Immunology Services of King Abdulaziz University who looked into Zindani's claims said if he were Minister of Health he'd put Zindani in jail...
for all Zindani references go here
for the full text of "The Man in the Red Underpants" go here

You may also be interested to read this article by Andrew Gilligan which also exposes iERA for the lying charlatans they really are.